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Wu Changshuo 2019-06-05
Wu Changshuo (September 12, 1844 - November 29, 1927) is a prominent painter, calligrapher and seal artist of the late Qing Dynasty of China. As a painter, he is renowned as 'Four Leading Masters of Shanghai-School Painting'. As a seal artist, he is the first leader of Xiling Seal-engravers’ Society, an academic organization for Hangzhou-based seal artists which still show its charm in the Solitary Hill of West Lake, Hangzhou. His skills in calligraphy, seal-engraving and painting along with his creativity helped him to develop his distinct artistic style which was unprecedented.


Wu Changshuo was born into a scholarly family and showed great talent in both literature and seal engraving at a young age. He was able to write couplets at the age of 8 and did seal engravings at 10 under his father’s instruction. Affected by the outbreak of Taiping Rebellion, Wu Changshuo lost touch with his parents during evacuation. After years of being homeless, he returned to his hometown and did farming work for a living. During the period, he studied hard and passed the entry-level imperial examinations (exams used to select governmental officials in ancient China) at the age of 21, however, for his interest in seal engraving, calligraphy and painting etc. since young, he gave up his ambition in politics and hadn't entered for imperial examinations ever since. At 29, he moved to Suzhou and acquainted with many a prominent painter of Shanghai School and was fed a large number of excellent works. The experience benefited him a lot and his skills were greatly improved. At 50, he was appointed the magistrate of Andong County, Jiangsu Province but quitted a month later.  In 1904, Xiling Seal-engravers' Society was founded by West Lake and he was elected the first leader. In the November of 1927, he died of a stroke at the age of 84 in Shanghai. In 1933, his tomb was moved to Chaoshan Mountain in Yuhang County, Hangzhou. His works can still be viewed in the China Sigillography Museum within Xiling Seal-engravers' Society.

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